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Georgia DDS Continues to Deny Driver’s License to Puerto Rican, Despite Document Authentication

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Georgia DDS Continues to Deny Driver’s License to Puerto Rican, Despite Document Authentication

Location: 
Atlanta, GA

CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, cperez@latinojustice.org, 212-739-7581

Atlanta, GA – Kenneth Caban Gonzalez has been waiting nearly two years for his Georgia driver’s license and earlier today information was published showing that Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) has known that his documents were authentic since July of 2018. This news comes as LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Southern Center for Human Rights continue a legal battle to ensure that Georgia DDS treats Puerto Rican citizens with the same rights as other U.S. citizens.

The information that was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, show that after the Georgia DDS sent federal officials  Kenneth’s documents—Puerto Rico driver’s license, birth certificate and a social security card, federal officials
confirmed that the documents were genuine and not fraudulent as DDS had erroneously assumed. Yet DDS sat on the information for a year. It took no action to provide Kenneth with a Georgia driver’s license or give him back his valid identity documents. It is because of this callousness by Georgia DDS that Kenneth and his legal team remain adamant that Georgia DDS must stop treating Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens and allow Kenneth to transfer his Puerto Rico driver’s license to Georgia without having to take any extra tests.

“I am very hurt by the information AJC has reported. For almost two years now, my life has been on pause. I can’t drive to work, drive my infant daughter to her pediatric appointments, or run errands because Georgia DDS refuses to let me transfer my Puerto Rican driver’s license to Georgia. A driver’s license is necessary here and denying me a license for so long has put a real strain on my family. It has significantly limited what jobs I can take on. The only reason I don’t have a driver’s license today is because of discrimination against Puerto Ricans and people not wanting to admit that they are wrong. I hope Georgia DDS realizes how difficult life is for me right now and lets me get a Georgia driver’s license soon” said Kenneth Caban Gonzalez.

“We have not yet received the documents referred to in the article related to our client and the practices and procedures followed by the Georgia DDS and at the heart of our lawsuit.  However, the fact that our client’s biographical documents were authenticated nearly a year before we filed litigation and DDS did nothing, and, to this day, has yet to issue our client a Georgia driver’s license underscores the basis of our claims and shows an egregious pattern of abuse of power. It is also disheartening that DDS waited nine months after our client’s identity documents were authenticated by the Department of Homeland Security to dismiss criminal charges it sought against him claiming that he presented fraudulent documents. We hope, in light of AJC’s reporting, that DDS will be inclined to reach an expeditious and just outcome not only on behalf of our client but also on behalf of other Puerto Ricans in the community who have been subjected to similar discriminatory treatment and deserve justice,” said Kira Romero Craft, Managing Attorney for LatinoJustice’s  Southeast Office.  

“Discrimination should not drive DDS policy. We encourage DDS to do what it knows to be right and to treat Mr. Caban Gonzalez like any other U.S. citizen seeking to transfer driver’s license to this State,” said Atteeyah Hollie, Senior Staff Attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights.
 
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LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org.
 
The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) is working for equality, fairness, and dignity in our criminal legal system. The mission of SCHR is to end capital punishment, mass incarceration, and other criminal justice practices that are used to control the lives of poor people, people of color, and other marginalized groups in the Southern United States. They do this through death penalty representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education.